Entering the world of Harry Potter…with my kids

I’ve been an avid fan of Harry since my first  reading of the first book. Since then I’ve read the series numerous times throughout the years and have loved every minute of that experience.

Since my kids were born (10 and 7 years ago) I started slowly buying them their own copies of the series so that they’d each have a complete set of their own one day. And I’ve been eagerly waiting for that day when they’d be old enough for me to share these fascinating stories with them.

That magical day came one week ago. Well, to back up a bit, about a month ago I was reading a few of the Narnia books to my oldest, and he told me that when we had finished our Narnia books then he’d let me start reading HP to him. I think I cheered when I heard that…it was a day long-awaited for me, and I knew he was old enough for the first few books…was just waiting for him to be ready to start.

So, I was immensely excited to begin this journey with my sons. I even gave them a bit of a speech (lol) about how special Harry is to me and how much I love him. Then we jumped right in!! It was after the fifth chapter that my eldest declared “this is officially my new favourite series!” That made my heart sing even more!!!

We finished reading #1 this morning, and we plan on starting #2 after school today. As much as I love sharing this series with my kids, it’s the quality time spent reading to them that I love even more. Yes, it helps that it’s something I’m passionate about and it’s great seeing their interest in the story and characters, but it’s so important for me to invest in their childhoods with quality time and enriching their lives with the experience of reading a new story and witnessing them discovering this magical world!

As many times as I’ve read this book, there are some moments that are more emotional than others. Reading this book out loud and all the love and history I have with HP, there were some moments that got me very emotional, with tears in my eyes or not even being able to read because I’m crying. The first moment came at the last sentence of Chapter One:

He couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: ‘To Harry Potter – the boy who lived!’   (p 18)

Wow!!!!! Talk about a great way to finish the first chapter. And what a special ‘toast’ to a boy who doesn’t even know that the fact that he lived is the most amazing moment to the wizarding world. Got choked up on that one for sure!

The next spot was during a Quidditch match when Malfoy has some insults against Neville:

Neville went bright red but turned in his seat to face Malfoy.

‘I’m worth twelve of you, Malfoy,’ he stammered.

Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle howled with laughter, but Ron, still not daring to take his eyes from the game, said, ‘You tell him, Neville.’        (p 163)

Aw, Neville!!! All that he does and is in the future books…I love this one moment where he gets the courage to stand up to the bullies! And Neville knows his self-worth which is amazing!

I also cried at the end when Hagrid gives Harry the scrapbook of pics of his parents. That moment had never really touched me strongly before; but knowing the power of a photograph, this was a really beautiful gift.

And, last but not least, cried the most with this one…Dumbledore’s final speech at the End of Year feast, when he’s giving out the final points to Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville. Again, I could barely get through the sentence about Neville. So admirable that Neville’s courage was recognized…this time for standing up to his friends, not his enemies. Dumbledore puts it so beautifully:

‘There are all kinds of courage,’ said Dumbledore, smiling. ‘It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr Neville Longbottom.’   (p 221)

At this point in reading the book, my oldest was saying “stop crying about it…JUST READ!!!” He knew we were so close to the end of the book, and also so close to the time we had to leave for school…so he just wanted to be able to finish it before then.

So, that sums up my first foray into Harry Potter with my kids. So happy to be started on this journey with them as I introduce them to this wonderful series.

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Before Ever After

Before Ever After  by Samantha Sotto

I read this book over the weekend and absolutely LOVED it!!!! I wasn’t even 100 pages in when I knew this would be how I’d be spending my spare time on the weekend. I loved the author’s writing style; it was so descriptive, clever and funny! I won’t reveal any spoilers or give too much info/specifics about the story-line or what it’s all about (it’s definitely a book that you want to experience for yourself as the reader). I loved the characters and the different stories within the story. If you’ve read this book, please comment below as I’d love to hear from you! This one is definitely one I’ll recommend!!

New Books This Fall

We’re into September and I’m getting the feeling soon of hibernating with my books this fall/winter. Lol. Can’t wait!! Goodreads recently released an article about “big books of fall.” Here’s where you can find books that are being released this fall, and short descriptions of what they’re about. Some really great ones are on the list!! Here are a few that I’ve got on my TBR list:

A Spark of Light  by Jodi Picoult: I have read almost all of Picoult’s books, and am looking forward to what she’s got for her readers this time!

Nine Perfect Strangers  by Liane Moriarty: I’ve read a few books by this author, and will add this new one to my TBR list as well.

The Library Book  by Susan Orlean: I’m a sucker for books about books and libraries, so this one is added to the list!

Becoming  by Michelle Obama: I’m SO looking forward to reading this book by my favourite US First Lady!

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris: I’m a fan of historical fiction and am looking forward to this one on my list. This book was inspired by interviews with a Holocaust survivor and tattooist

Transcription  by Kate Atkinson: Another historical fiction set after WWII.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter  by Kate Morton: Morton is another favourite author of mine, and I always love diving in to new stories by her!

Those are just a few on the list, click HERE for the full list! Please comment below if there are any that look interesting to you!

Star Wars: Tales from the Empire

Star Wars: Tales from the Empire edited by Peter Schweighofer

I read this book as the start of my reading journey through more Star Wars content, specifically books that feature the character of Mara Jade. This book is a collection of SW  fiction, nine short stories and another short story written in four parts (by two authors). Two of these nine stories have Mara Jade in them, with very minor roles. This was a great collection, especially because the stories seemed to feature a great balance between female and male main characters. Most of the characters were new to me, but there were a few times when familiar names were mentioned. Just goes to show how large the SW  universe really is…there’s room for lots of stories!!!

A few of my favourites were stories entitled “Tinian on Trial” by Kathy Tyers, “Missed Chance” by Michael A. Stackpole, “A Certain Point of View” by Charlene Newcomb, and “Slaying Dragons” by Angela Phillips.

If you’re a fan of Star Wars, I would encourage you to check this one out…even if it’s “your first step into a larger world”(Obi Wan)!

Star Wars!!!!

I realized lately that my blog, which is focused on books and reading and all the wonderful things that go with that lifestyle, has had shockingly few posts related to Star Wars (despite being named after Luke Skywalker’s call sign of Red 5). So, I am going to change that, and make more of an effort to throw in a few more posts about Star Wars books.

There have been many many SW  novels written over the years since the debut of this universe. For a long time all SW stories (movies, books, everything else) were considered equal and were a part of what was called the Expanded Universe (EU). All were a part of the universe and they all fit in together. Then “the change” came when the big D company took over! Then they made a distinction between things that were a part of the SW  Canon (episodes I-VI and every movie after that, and The Clone Wars animated film and TV series) and other stories that didn’t fit into that Canon which they then made into “Legends.”

Years ago I read through a bunch of the SW  books that took place within the EU, but it’s been years since I’ve read any with any consistency. Recently I was reminded of the (now) Legends character of Mara Jade. I was trying to explain her to hubby but realized that I had forgotten a lot of what she did etc (other than that she was the Emperor’s Hand and eventually got married to Luke Skywalker etc). So, I decided to read through some SW  novels that feature her as a character! Since it’s somewhat overwhelming to try to read through ALL of the SW  novels, I’ll start with this shorter list.

So that’s the SW Canon/Legends summed up a bit. And, stay tuned for more Star Wars related posts coming your way!!

Promises to Keep

Promises to Keep  by Genevieve Graham (audiobook narrated by Alexis Quednau)

Listening to the audiobook version of this book was a really interesting experience. This was at the invitation of the author, Genevieve Graham (thank you!!). And the narrator, Alexis Quednau, has such a pleasant voice that it made this book a treat for the ears!

“Summer 1755, Acadia. Young, feisty, and beautiful Amelie Belliveau lives a contented life with her family on their idyllic farm in Grande Pré, Nova Scotia. The Acadians are a peaceful people, and she and her family enjoy a good relationship with their Mi’kmaq neighbours. But peace can be fragile. Soon, British soldiers invade her life, claim her family’s farm, and ship away her brothers and father, all the while demanding that all Acadians pledge allegiance in their Seven Years’ War against the French. Fortunately, Amelie has made a powerful ally. Corporal Connor MacDonnell is a reluctant participant in England’s plan to expel the Acadians from their homeland. His sympathy for Amelie gradually grows into love, and he resolves to help her and her family in any way he can—even if it means treason. As the last warmth of summer fades, more ships arrive to ferry the Acadians away, and Connor is forced to make a choice that will alter their futures forever.” (Goodreads)

This was another excellent book, centered around an aspect of Canadian history with which I’m not very familiar. I may have learned about it in high school history class, but if I did I don’t remember any of that (and high school was a few years ago!). So, this was a learning experience for me too. I enjoy books that inspire me to do further research, to learn all I can about the people/places/events of which I’m unfamiliar. The Deportation of the Acadians occurred in 1755-1763 and approximately 10 000 Acadians were deported. Yet another example of people being forcibly removed from their homes and sent away. It’s a sad aspect of Canadian history which leaves lasting effects .

I enjoyed the story and the characters and the resolution of the story at the end, even though there was heartbreak along the way. I didn’t take any notes while listening to this book (usually I do), but I enjoyed the author’s use of words as she weaves this story throughout the events of history that took place.

Thank you again to author Genevieve Graham. I enjoyed this opportunity to listen to and review this book; and I will definitely recommend your books to others who enjoy reading Canadian historical fiction as well.

*My progress for the Canadian Book Challenge is 6/13!!

TBR Pile for Summer: Completed!!!

Over the past month I challenged myself to read a stack of my own books in my personal library. Well, a month later I’ve completed almost all of those books and have really missed getting books from the library. So, it’s time to share the books that I read:

 

 

 

 

 

Mossflower by Brian Jacques: Book #2 in the Redwall series. This book is a prequel to the first book, Redwall. “The clever and greedy wildcat Tsarmina becomes ruler of all Mossflower Woods and is determined to govern the peaceful woodlanders with an iron paw. The brave mouse Martin and quick-talking mouse thief Gonff meet in the depths of Kotir Castle’s dungeon. The two escape and resolve to end Tsarmina’s tyrannical rule. Joined by Dinny the mole, Martin and Gonff set off on a dangerous quest for Salamandastron, where they are convinced that their only hope, Boar the Fighter, still lives.” (Goodreads)

Deafening by Frances Itani: 5-year old Grania becomes deaf and grows up and goes to a school for the deaf. After she graduates she meets and marries Jim Lloyd, a hearing man. Together they begin to create their own vocabulary to communicate with each other. Two weeks after their wedding, Jim heads off to WWI as a stretcher-bearer. Within their letters back and forth they attempt to sustain their young love.

The Horse and His Boy  by C.S. Lewis: This book is a part of The Chronicles of Narnia. Shasta on the run from his homeland with the talking horse, Bree. When the pair discover a deadly plot by the Calormen people to conquer the land of Narnia, the race is on to warn the inhabitants of the impending danger and to rescue them all from certain death.

Hot Milk  by Deborah Levy: “Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s unexplainable illness. She’s frustrated with Rose and her constant complaints but utterly relieved to be called to abandon her own disappointing fledgling adult life. She and Rose travel to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant, Dr. Gomez–their very last chance–in the hope that he might cure Rose’s unpredictable limb paralysis, but Dr. Gomez has strange methods that seem to have little to do with physical medicine, and as the treatment progresses, Rose’s illness becomes increasingly baffling. Sofia’s role as detective–tracking Rose’s symptoms in an attempt to find the secret motivation for her pain–deepens as she discovers her own desires in this transient desert community.” (Goodreads)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire  by J.K. Rowling: A favourite of mine, #4 in the HP series. “The summer holidays are dragging on and Harry Potter can’t wait for the start of the school year. It is his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and there are spells to be learnt and (unluckily) Potions and Divination lessons to be attended. But Harry can’t know that the atmosphere is darkening around him, and his worst enemy is preparing a fate that it seems will be inescapable.” (Goodreads)

The Magician’s Nephew  by C.S. Lewis: This was a re-read for me, but it had been numerous years since the last time I read it. Such a great read! “The secret passage to the house next door leads to a fascinating adventure. NARNIA…where the woods are thick and cold, where Talking Beasts are called to life…a new world where the adventure begins. Digory and Polly meet and become friends one cold, wet summer in London. Their lives burst into adventure when Digory’s Uncle Andrew, who thinks he is a magician, sends them hurtling to…somewhere else. They find their way to Narnia, newborn from the Lion’s song, and encounter the evil sorceress Jadis before they finally return home.” (Goodreads)

The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur  by Daoud Hari: “The young life of Daoud Hari–his friends call him David–has been one of bravery and mesmerizing adventure. He is a living witness to the brutal genocide under way in Darfur. The Translator is a suspenseful, harrowing, and deeply moving memoir of how one person has made a difference in the world–an on-the-ground account of one of the biggest stories of our time. Using his high school knowledge of languages as his weapon–while others around him were taking up arms–Daoud Hari has helped inform the world about Darfur.” (Goodreads)

The Last Battle  by C.S. Lewis: The final book in The Chronicles of Narnia. I read this one to my kids. “The last battle is the greatest battle of all. Narnia… where lies breed fear… where loyalty is tested… where all hope seems lost. During the last days of Narnia, the land faces its fiercest challenge – not an invader from without but an enemy from within. Lies and treachery have taken root, and only the king and a small band of loyal followers can prevent the destruction of all they hold dear in this, the magnificent ending to the Chronicles of Narnia.” (Goodreads)

Anne of the Island  by L.M. Montgomery: Such a great book, I’m loving this series!!! “New adventures lie ahead as Anne Shirley packs her bags, waves good-bye to childhood, and heads for Redmond College. With old friend Prissy Grant waiting in the bustling city of Kingsport and frivolous new pal Philippa Gordon at her side, Anne tucks her memories of rural Avonlea away and discovers life on her own terms, filled with surprises…including a marriage proposal from the worst fellow imaginable, the sale of her very first story, and a tragedy that teaches her a painful lesson. But tears turn to laughter when Anne and her friends move  into an old cottage and an ornery black cat steals her heart. Little does Anne know that handsome Gilbert Blythe wants to win her heart, too. Suddenly Anne must decide if she’s ready for love…” (Goodreads)

What Alice Forgot  by Liane Moriarty: “Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over…” (Goodreads)